In this blog, I have consistently used the following words to characterize the relationship between Andhras and Telanganas in the merged state called Andhra Pradesh with a history of 53 years. I said that Andhras have discriminated, marginalized, and dominated Telanganas leading to oppression of Telangana people.
When I use those words I know exactly what I am trying to convey. It is not exaggeration or case of using bombastic words to catch attention of my readers. In this post I would like to talk about marginalization and domination of Telanganas.
A modern pluralistic multicultural multiethnic democratic nation is not run as a game of basketball where the best team wins the game, nor is it live example of ‘survival of the fittest’ where the best group survives while the inferior one just dies out. It is high time we understood that an ‘award for excellence’ is different from ‘access to opportunity’; most Indians confuse these two. Getting a gold medal in Olympics is an award for excellence, but getting basic education and job for livelihood is access to opportunity. While the award for excellence is not a privilege nor is it guaranteed to everyone, the access to opportunity comes as a promise from the nation to every citizen.
Basketball games and fight for food
If in 10 games of NBA, Spurs win over Hornets all the ten times, then it may be reasoned that Spurs are a better team. A score of 10-0 is celebrated as hallmark of excellence. It is not considered unfair practice. However, in a modern nation, if region A bags all the projects against region B resulting in a score of 10-0, it is considered unfair and downright discriminatory. Any observer would conclude that region B is being marginalized by region A.
Suppose there are two kids in a home, one 6-year old and another 3-year old, where all food items are placed high enough so that the kids have to jump up and grab them whenever they are hungry. The taller and older 6-year old kid will end up grabbing all the food while the 3-year old will remain undernourished and emaciated. His growth will be stunted. He will get few morsels only when older kid leaves something after he has stuffed himself to the full. As time progresses, the gap between the kids starts widening making it impossible for the younger kid to catch up.
If a parent continues the practice of ‘You fight it out. Let’s see who wins’, it is not considered a fair practice. Food on a daily basis cannot be an award. It is the basic resource by which both the kids get their sustenance.
Modern nations don’t run like basketball games or fight for food practices. They don’t hold competitions between regions to give awards for excellence. They promise guarantees and abide by them. Even the smallest and weakest section of society is taken care of with preferential treatment. Modern nations do not allow the majorities and the privileged to marginalize and dominate the minorities and the underprivileged.
Instead, modern nations act like fair parents and they don’t allow the kids to fight each other to grab the food. It allocates a fair share to each; and they stop the kid who tries to grab it from the other. Jobs, water, funds are not up for grabs. They are promised to certain region based on an agreed formula. When you deviate from that agreed formula the parents step into make corrections.
Andhras don’t share the same idea of a modern nation. They think it is an NBA game or a match of ‘fight for survival’. In Andhra Pradesh, Telanganas were forced to compete with Andhras on jobs, water, energy, funds for various projects including colleges and schools, hospitals, positions in the government, where Andhras have clearly won over Telanganas. Andhras think it is a fair game – an open competition. They don’t think that bagging all the jobs or getting more water amounts to marginalization. Instead they laud themselves on their ability to win against Telanganas.
Over a period of time, politicians of Andhras have consistently tried to win for their constituencies, and what aided them were advantages of early start where all top positions in administration were occupied by Andhras, clout of majority where State Assembly was dominated by Andhras overpowering minority Telanganas, and also a more unified and concerted stand because Andhras are more homogenous in their composition than Telanganas.
There may not be a single leader who has led this campaign of marginalization and domination, and there may not be a hidden agenda. But Andhras who were in a better position to win the race have ignored the promises they made to give fair share to Telanganas. They didn’t care to step back and think if what they were doing was indeed fair. Each generation of selfish Andhras, aided and supported by innocent and ignorant Andhras, has consistently marginalized Telanganas leading to decimation of Telangana’s ability to put up a credible fight. Andhras kept winning and Telanangas kept losing. Andhras thought they were receiving awards for their excellence while in fact Telanganas were losing out on all their access to opportunities.
Andhra and Telanganas were on two different planes about what Andhra Pradesh meant for each of us. For Telanganas it was formed on a set of agreements and promises. For Andhras it was an open competition where every resource was up for grabs, where the winner takes all.
According to India Today, 28 December 2009, during YSR tenure, 26 projects have been allocated to irrigate 43 lakh hectares in Andhra-Rayalaseema but only 16 lakh hectares in Telangana. Though Telangana constitutes 40% in land area and population it gets 27% in irrigation.
In a recent GO 1845 of December 2009 for road and bridge constructions, only 9.31 Crores was allocated to Telangana while Andhra got 103.53 Crores.
By 1985, Andhras were unfairly given 125,000 jobs that belonged to Telanganas. Though the GO 610 to correct this was supposed to be implemented by 1986, it remains unimplemented even now.
This is only a snapshot of what is happening NOW. The history of Andhra Pradesh is full of such unfair sanctions. In the first 13 years of Andhra Pradesh, funds from Telangana were diverted to fund Andhra. After 1969 agitation, Andhra Pradesh stopped showing records of revenues and expenses for each region so that people will never know what’s happening. Only in the recent time with the RTI Act, the Telangana Movement got another boost because the data is now available; and the data reeks of outright marginalization of Telangana people.
It is clear from every source that Andhras, with Andhra politicians at the forefront, with selected few in the administration, backed and supported by the people of Andhras, have consistently marginalized Telanganas on almost every front.
And yet, Andhras are not apologetic about it. Andhras don’t take responsibility for what happened to Telanganas. Not a single Andhra openly admits what they have done. They don’t even concede that Telanganas were marginalized. No amount of data is going to make them realize this. If Telanganas lost out, they think it is because of Telanganas’ incompetence, inefficiency, internal squabbling, corrupt politicians, or simply an act of fate.
In fact, even the current agitation for separate Telangana is seen as reverse domination, where Telangana is ‘unfairly’ grabbing Hyderabad. Andhras feel they are getting a bad deal. When they fight for Hyderabad they think it is a fair fight. Most innocent and ignorant Andhras are oblivious to this, but when they participate in an agitation for Samaikya Andhra and support their politicians, they are in fact only continuing the domination of Andhras over Telanganas.
Within the first few years of formation of Andhra Pradesh, Andhras have completely nullified all points of Gentlemen’s Agreement and then went onto annul two subsequent accords. In 1973, they went on a mass agitation to nullify a Supreme Court decision using their power of majority. Whenever Telanganas unified to make their case, Andhras resorted to utter domination by taking the State Assembly to indefinite adjournment. The same happened after P Chidambaram announced steps towards separate Telangana on 9 December 2009.
In game of Andhra Pradesh, Andhras are leading Telanganas by 200-0. Telanganas are consistently losing. Andhras do not think they have done anything wrong. They think they are Spurs beating down the Hornets, or the taller kid winning all the food awards because he is taller and fit. When Telanganas protest, Andhras call them a crybaby. They urge Telanganas to buck up, catch up, on their own, and be in the race like a true sportsman. They want to keep going in this game called Andhra Pradesh where they can take the satisfaction that they will be beating Telanganas ceaselessly for another fifty years if necessary.
Telanganas don’t think that it is a fair game. They don’t think it is a game at all. They complain that this nation has not protected their interests as a good parent. Telanganas don’t want to compete with Andhras in any game. They want their own state and want to live on their own terms. May be the life as a separate Telangana will be harsh, but at least they know that they will not be oppressed all the time.
And if Andhras are even a bit mature, they will concede they have marginalized and dominated Telanganas. Maybe it was done inadvertently, but they would apologize; and would let go of Telangana and its cities. If I were Andhra, that’s what I would do, apologize.